Catching Up With Martyn

(11 August 2022 12:00 am)
Martyn smiling during one of his walks across Warwick racecourse

As you may have seen in our last Warwickshire Vision magazine edition, or perhaps even on the radio, Warwickshire Vision Support trustee Martyn Parker has set himself the enduring challenge of walking a total of 5 million steps in 2022 to raise money for Warwickshire Vision Support.

Martyn, who is visually impaired, has to walk an impressive average of 13,698 steps every single day without fail to complete his goal.

Martyn has been involved with Warwickshire Vision Support for over 30 years and would like your support to help him raise money.

Now past the halfway mark, Martyn catches up with WVS on his progress so far.

Hi Martyn, thanks for taking a break to catch up with us. Your challenge has gained a bit of traction amongst the local community lately, is that fair to say?
Absolutely, the support has been incredible. I’ve been invited on to the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio three times so far over the course of this challenge, and I’m still in contact with one of the producers to give him updates. On top of that, the support I have received on social media has been fantastic. When I go on my walks across the Warwick racecourse to get my steps in, I’m always wearing my Warwickshire Vision Support high-visibility jacket and people often stop me for conversations to learn more. I’ve even had people pull out their wallets and hand me money when they learn about the challenge! Still more needs to be done to reach our £1850 target but so far the support has been overwhelming.

What was it that inspired you to take on this 5 million step challenge for WVS?
Honestly, the whole thing just made sense to me. WVS have a 111 year history of supporting people in Warwickshire with sight loss and have been personally involved with
Warwickshire Vision Support for over 30 years now, and they have helped and supported me tremendously as a visually impaired person. I am also currently a Trustee of the charity and wanted to do a fundraiser to help support the work that they do. Then on top of that, I have always enjoyed walking. Walking is also something I can do on my own, so a walking challenge just seemed like the logical thing to do. Just to improve my overall fitness, over the last two autumns, I completed a 1 million step challenge, I decided that why not challenge myself a bit further and go for 5 million steps in a year. And so far it’s been going great!

Now that it is summer, how are you fairing with the summer heat?
It’s very tough! It’s hot, so I’ve had to alter my walking pattern walking to accommodate the heat. Lately I’ve been going out very early or very late when it is cool. But over the course
of this challenge, I’ve been out in all sorts of weather - including a hailstorm! At least when it’s hot I’m easy to see, you can spot my high-vis and pasty white legs a mile off!

What’s been the hardest part of this challenge so far?
I think for me it’s been trying to keep the average steps up. I went away for a little while and only did 1000 on some of the days when my average is meant to be over 13,000! Some days I do much over though, so for example on Sunday I managed 28,000, so I have faith that I will be done in time. One other thing that has been quite challenging, is earlier this year I unfortunately lost my beloved guide dog and dear friend Wheeler. We began this journey together and it’s been hard adjusting to life without him. Fortunately the 5 million steps has given me something to focus on.

Now you’re past the halfway mark, are you feeling physically fitter than when you began?
Absolutely! Walking is a great activity to do, it’s not too strenuous and it makes you feel good! I’ve lost about half a stone so far. I’ve also been completing a lot of my walking challenge with Park Run who have been a great support. I even managed to beat my personal best with them recently.

Has there been any part of this challenge so far that has surprised you?
It’s hard to say really. I didn’t come into the challenge with any preconceived ideas, I just knew that I wanted to do it! One thing that surprised me was the amount of support I have been given from family and friends. I get a lot of positive comments and messages on social media which is always lovely to see. However, I think the most surprising thing is the fact that I’m somehow still enjoying it, but then again I’ve always enjoyed walking.

Once you’ve finished off your five million steps, do you think we have a chance of seeing you do six million next year?
[Laughs] Who knows! I’m already starting to think about what I could be doing next year. Although I’d quite like to start working again so we’ll see.

Is there anything you’d like to add at all?
Yes, I’d like to give a big thank you to everybody who has donated so far! Your support has truly meant a lot and I can’t thank you enough.

If you would like to help support Martyn in his 5 million step challenge, please visit:

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